Heat Stroke Treatment

How do you treat an individual with heat stroke?

Follow these steps to initiate emergency treatment:

  • Remove all equipment and excess clothing.
  • Cool the athlete as quickly as possible within 30 minutes via whole body ice water immersion (place them in a tub/stock tank with ice and water approximately 35–58°F); stir water and add ice throughout cooling process.
  • If immersion is not possible (no tub or no water supply), take athlete into a cold shower or move to shaded, cool area and use rotating cold, wet towels to cover as much of the body surface as possible.
  • Maintain airway, breathing and circulation.
  • After cooling has been initiated, activate emergency medical system by calling 911.
  • Monitor vital signs such as rectal temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, monitor CNS status.
    • If rectal temperature is not available, DO NOT USE AN ALTERNATE METHOD (oral, tympanic, axillary, forehead sticker, etc.).  These devices are not accurate and should never be used to assess an athlete exercising in the heat.
  • Cease cooling when rectal temperature reaches 101–102°F (38.3–38.9°C).

Exertional heat stroke has had a 100% survival rate when immediate cooling (via cold water immersion or aggressive whole body cold water dousing) was initiated within 10 minutes of collapse.

Recommended Equipment List

  • Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) Device
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Lubricating gel
  • Tub or kiddy pool
  • Cooler with ice
  • Water source
  • 3-4 towels
  • Tent for shade